We had an amazing visit from Marie-Anne Harkness from the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center. She told about her grandmother, Celine Morali, who was saved over 300 Jewish people in Paris from the Nazis. She would hide them in the basement of her hardware store, give them food, water, a place to clean up and some spending money. When the time was right, she would help sneak them onto a nearby train. Refugees would then ride into unoccupied France for a chance at freedom.
The students loved hearing her story and were transfixed as they listened to her Grandmother’s courage. She stayed strong even after the Gestapo threw her from a moving car when they were looking for her Jewish husband (who was living in unoccupied France). They were able to connect details, like how Marie-Anne’s mother played piano to cover the sounds of people in the basement from the neighbors, to their current studies of WWII.
Marie-Anne shows them the Jewish Star of David that her Grandfather refused to wear. He then hid “in plain sight” by going about his business as if he were not Jewish.
One student shared, ” I just thought it was really interesting to learn about World War II from a relative of somebody from the resistance, as there really weren’t very many people willing to help Jewish people at the time, so it kind of added a whole new perspective on the war that I hadn’t really heard much about before.”
The students gave her talk rave reviews. In the words of one student, “This has been the most engaging talk I’ve heard at this school. Thank you for sharing your story.”
Another student wrote to Marie-Anne and declared. “I am a strong supporter of the suggestion that you should write a book.”
Thanks again Marie-Anne. You helped make history come to life today and your Grandmother and mother’s stories will live on.